Join The Parade!
Greeted only with the sound of a life support machine bleeping, The Black Parade begins MCR's story in a cancer ward with the premature death of the album's hero, The Patient. After an introduction ('The End'), The Black Parade fully explodes with the chaotically energetic 'Dead!' that sees MCR shake off their arena shackles and embrace stadium style punk, coming equipped with ferocious guitars and a fantastically ridiculous break of "lalalalaas" reminiscent of the days of Britpop and which only this band could the nerve to throw amongst such a highly charged ferocious songs. From here The Black Parade simply takes on a life of its own, transforming into the rock opera the band promised to deliver with the power of 'This Is How I Disappear' perfectly holding its own against the epicness of 'The Sharpest Knives' before we finally hit 'Welcome To The Black Parade', probably the track on the album that comes close to explaining the concept behind The Black Parade. You see, the band that have always been associated with death, vampires and horror films have shunned the imaginative world of previous albums which included Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, in which the 'heroes' are two criminal 'demolition lovers' who are killed only for the boy to make a pact with the devil for the lives of him and his lover, Helena in return for the souls of a thousand evil men. For many it harboured too many morbid thoughts and lacked realism. True, MCR have not deserted their melodramatics on their third album but instead they have adopted what could be seen as a more mature approach to death with The Black Parade dealing with The Patient's untimely death and the idea that death comes to him in the form of a vivid memory from childhood; a marching parade. And with this idea 'Welcome To The Black Parade' fully sets up the album, bringing the parade to the listener with of course MCR's unique touch of glam execution.
With seething guitars and fierce drumming, 'House Of Wolves' is a classically over the top slab of rock that bands have not even attempted to recreate since the 70s. Way snarls and sneers his vocals with extra campness, allowing the following track 'Cancer' to carry that extra punch of surprise and humility. With just Way's emotionally fuelled vocals accompanied only by a piano, 'Cancer' is as brutally honest and open as MCR have ever dared attempted. Heart breakingly sincere, 'Cancer' can not fail to move even the strongest to tears with lyrics such as "Now turn away/'Cause I'm awful just to see/ 'Cause all my hairs abandoned all my body.....But counting down the days to go/ It just ain't living" fully exposing the agony and despair of the disease.
So, how do you follow such a harrowingly moving song? Well with Liza Minelli of course. Playing the role of Mama War, Minelli's inclusion on the vaudeville theatrics of 'Mama' is a gamble that truly pays off for the New Jersey boys. Ridiculously fantastic, 'Mama' has to be heard to be believed but put simply is amazing. And the hits just keep flowing with a main highlight being 'Teenagers', dealing with the issue of school shootings in America in a cheery style that sees MCR delivering a punch the air chorus of "All teenagers scare the living shit out of me" and sounding like T-Rex melding together with Queen. And with this, all that's left for the new MCR to do is leave you with, wait for it, an optimistic number in the form of the epic 'Famous Last Words', full of crunching guitars that break into full Brian May air guitar moments before blending with Way's uniquely emotion addled vocals. Stick around long enough though and a hidden track reveals the humorous fun side that resides in a band that so often get wrongly lumped together with the emo scene and all it supposedly entails. If nothing else, 'The Black Parade' will at least prove MCR is a rock band first and foremost.
Pack away all your preconceptions; forget what you think you know about My Chemical Romance because the band of self confessed outsiders who seem to be either loved or loathed have done the unthinkable, they have created an album that is so flamboyantly ridiculous in its pomposity and so fantastic in its theatrical delivery, it could quite possibly be the best album of the year. Yes, the New Jersey quintet who incited a hail of missiles at the Reading Festival this summer are firmly throwing off the emo tag that has haunted them, returning with an album that offers glimpses of Queen's camp theatrics whilst delivering the rock opera of Green Day's America Idiot and adopting the persona of a Goth Beatle's Sgt. Pepper. It's over the top and melodramatic, brimming with theatrics and ostentatiousness but if you just throw away what you think you know about this band, you could discover the album of the year. So, all you non believers lay down the missiles you've been saving since Reading and join The Black Parade, trust me you could be pleasantly surprised.